Edinburgh Capitals goalie Travis Fullerton, new signing Jaroslav Hertl and fit again Mike D’Orazio are all in line to make their competitive debuts ahead of tonight’s clash at Belfast Giants.
Caps complete their weekend fixtures with a home game against Braehead Clan tomorrow at Murrayfield (face-off 6pm) and both forward Taylor MacDougall and defenceman Jacob Johnston agree that the club’s triple boost could have a “huge influence” as they look to rebound from last weekend’s season opening 8-3 home loss to Dundee Stars and get their Challenge Cup campaign back on track.
Fullerton, who arrived three weeks late after there was a delay in Canada processing his work visa, met his new team-mates for the first time yesterday, whilst D’Orazio returned to training this week after picking up a knock in pre-season and is expected to partner Hertl in the Capitals’ rear-guard tonight after the 6ft 3in Czech was signed from Polish club GKS Tichy on Thursday.
MacDougall, who knows ex-Braehead net-minder Fullerton after the pair were team mates for two years at the University of New Brunswick, said: “Any one of those three things gives the boys a boost and breaths a little life into the room. If we’re fortunate enough for all three to come off tonight then it will make a huge difference.
“Fully’s a good buddy of mine, and we’ve been friends for a long time. I’m excited to have him here as a friend, but also because I know what he brings on the ice. He adds a lot to a team. I think fans here would have got a glimpse of that in his time at Braehead last year. With his experience he’s a calming influence back there.
“He’s a really laid-back character and his demeanour is great for our room and what we’re trying to achieve here.”
Speaking of the club’s whirl-wind pre-season and last Sunday’s disappointing result, MacDougall continued: “Things have been coming at the guys pretty fast. It’s still a bit of a feeling out process, but we’re working on systems and it’s now about accountability in the room and team chemistry and this week (in training) we’ve made steps towards both of those things.”
Jacob Johnston, now in his second season as a Capitals player, believes Edinburgh having a full squad to pick from will be a huge benefit, but warned there are no more excuses to defend another poor performance.
Johnston said: “It’s hard to forget about that game, there’s no getting away from the fact that it was the start of our season. We played well in the first two periods so there were some positives to take away, but there was also some things to work on. We have a full roster now and we’re looking forward to getting going again
“Last weekend wasn’t what we wanted. You don’t want to make excuses but there were some things working against us and now that we have everyone available there are none we can make. We’re getting comfortable with one another – our lines, our ‘D’ pairings and special teams, which we didn’t have a chance to work on before last weekend.”
Edinburgh do not get their Elite League campaign started until Sunday, September 25 and in reality it’s far too early to truly assess a Capitals squad that includes 15 new faces. However, special teams at both ends of the ice looked to have some potential.
Johnston continued: “I’m not going to single guys out, but everyone brings something to the table, and I think we’re all confident in the group we have and we expect a good competitive year.
“In terms of special teams our guys, prior to coming here, have had a good career in that regard – killing penalties or on the power-play.”
“Even though we’re still working on all getting on the same page, you can see we have some skill and can move the puck pretty well. Once we make improvements there our special teams, and everything else, will just get better.”